2018-04-23 - I Will Carve A Path To Everyone's Happiness

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Title: I Will Carve A Path To Everyone's Happiness

Lera confronts Mikoto about Endo Naoki, and realises that Mikoto's resolution to destroy is a complicated thing.


Lera Camry, Mikoto Minagi


Ohtori - Gardens

OOC - IC Date:

2018-04-23 - 2015-04-13

.******************** Yamanote High City - Ohtori Academy *********************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Garden +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Ohtori's grounds rarely miss a chance to include flowers, particularly roses
 and poppies, whether they be in planters, decorating terraces, or engraved
 into the stone walls. Nowhere is this theme more evident than in the
 courtyard garden, an open-air enclosure surrounded by the pillars of nearby
 walkways, permitting those traversing the facility to enjoy a bit of natural
 beauty on their way to class.

 The courtyard features a French formal garden, with nature kept in strict
 manicured order, man's dominion over nature turning shrubs and blooms into
 paint for the gardener's brush. A great glass jewel of a greenhouse
 dominates the courtyard, with the same lacelike white-painted cast iron that
 decorates the walkways supporting its cloudy antique glass panels.

 In contrast to without, the garden within the greenhouse is rampant and
 lush. Order is maintained with a subtler hand, and everywhere the flowers
 and trees are permitted to spill a bit, nature's cornucopia lovely in its
 excess. Exotic, oddly-shaped blooms that would wither outside the glass cage
 flourish within the winterless warmth, and small quantities of tropical
 citrus fruits are produced, most destined to be gifts for valued visitors.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Thanks to Mai's insistence that she rest, Mikoto's doing better than she was, today. But Mikoto wanted to go to class - so she's attended school, with Mai's reluctant blessing.

And she's tried not to think too hard about the implications of it being reluctant.

Classes are fine. She enjoys them more, even, now her options are lying in bed doing nothing or doing schoolwork instead. She enjoys her classmates innocent and incessant questions about her injuries a lot less. She hopes that when she goes back to hospital for a check-up tomorrow, they'll let her get rid of these bandages - the bruises are healing to artful scuff-marks, by now, but the bandages just call so much attention to her.

She needs to get rid of the walking stick at some point, too. But not today. She'll endure it a little longer, if only because that crushing guilt feels like it's threatening to flatten her at any moment.

But now classes are over. Mikoto knows she should head back, but being cooped up all afternoon... it's sad to think about. Besides, she thinks, Mai wouldn't mind if she rested before heading back, would she? Mai would want her to - ugh - pace herself.

Mikoto decides Mai wouldn't mind if she's a little late back. disappointing mai again

So Mikoto has found a seat in one of the many gardens of Ohtori, Miroku's case and that annoying walking stick leant against the side of the artful bench. She leans back against it, stroking the back of a little black and white cat who has found her and leapt up beside her.

As is the nature of Ohtori's gardens, there are few students wandering nearby, like the roses themselves sensed Mikoto's need for solitude and made for her a private little enclave. Or perhaps she's just gotten lucky? Surely this luck will hold out.

"... sorry, haven't visited, Mori," Mikoto says, quietly. Talking to cats is a totally normal thing - but at least with cats, Mikoto doesn't have to work so hard to make her words all fall into place. Sadness creeps onto her face and her voice as she confesses: "Things're... hard..."

Mori supplies a meow, because Mori is a totally normal kitten, and all she knows is that a human she likes is making noises at her, so she really ought to make noises back.

Mikoto replies with a meow of her own, and it's a perfect mimic of a cat's acknowledging mew. "... yeah," she says, after a moment, her hand stilling over Mori's back. "... I, just..." can't fix this

Mori leans back, ever limber, and licks at Mikoto's hand, because her one and only favoured human sounds upset - and more importantly, has paused in her petting. Mikoto smiles, glancing at her before returning her gaze to a rosebush, and scratches at her cheek. "... Mori's good cat."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera Camry doesn't come to Ohtori that often. Some of her clubs, however, interact with Ohtori -- which she finds frustrating, now. She would not like to be here. She wishes she was, but Mami Tomoe was. She wishes a lot of things, but wishes don't matter. Wishes didn't do anything to change what happened. Wishes caused it, in the first place. She even knows that much, though she really doesn't know everything.

(Who does?)

She didn't have to go through the gardens, either. The gardens are a place of refuge for her; a place that she once talked to Mami at. She finished talking with one of the other club members, and she finished... but, it seemed wrong to walk by.

She expected them to be quiet. The little enclaves make them quiet, even when it is crowded; she steps around a corner, into one of them, and sighs. It is the sort of sigh that she wouldn't do in front of someone.

Which is why she startles, jumping up a little -- and then her amber eyes widen, as she realizes someone else is here. "Oh--oh, gosh, sorry, I was a little lost, y'know? And--"

And then she realizes who, exactly, is here.

Her eyes widen as she gets a good, long look at Mikoto and Mori. Her eyes go from cat to girl and back again, before they fix on Mikoto. "...uh..."

Her expression screws up into a nervous grin. "...a-awkward, huh."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto's kitten hisses in protest as she hears a stranger coming near. Mikoto reacts at the same time as the cat, glancing around for the source of the disturbance, rather than in response to her flight. Her sharp, searching eyes soon spot Lera as she rounds the corner, and she tenses, visibly, as Lera nervously explains herself.

That girl...

... that girl hurt her. Ruined her feeble attempts to lie to preserve her normal life. Now everyone asks her about a different rumour, and she can tell none of them what happened. (That Ohtori would have done such a thing without Lera's help at all doesn't cross her mind for an instant.) Now she is a liar, known in fact. A liar, again. Never mind she doesn't have a choice - that she could never tell the truth. She lied, was caught in the lie, and it hurts.

That girl ruined her attempt to just be normal, whether through malice or clumsiness or nerves, and Mikoto does not like her, because she was trying to be normal for Mai.

Yeah, it's pretty awkward.

"Lost," she remarks, gruffly, over a suspicious gaze. Lera's grin is nervous; Mikoto's lips are drawn back in a line as taut as the rest of her. Her muscles ache with the strain. Mori takes a step back, another, and leaps into the bushes, disappearing in an instant, as if she could mirror what Mikoto wishes she could do. Mikoto glances to her as she goes, sadness crossing her eyes again for a moment before she returns her full attention to this girl - who she's not sure is an enemy or just incompetent.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera's half-goofy, half-embarrassed smile lasts for a second. It wasn't a peace offering that she entirely meant, but it was extended. The gruff remark and suspicious look makes it fade, slowly, receding into a more neutral expression. The flush to her cheeks dies down too, as she looks across the garden at her. Her hand grips the bag over her shoulder, and she finally breaks eye contact to look down at the ground.

"Lost," she repeats. There is a note of defensiveness to it. "I'm in the basketball club, this year. So I thought... y'know. I'd come see what Ohtori's is like."

She would make a remark about their basketball club serving sparkling water in flute glasses (and how messed up that is) if the mood was even slightly warmer. But it isn't.

She knows she should excuse her and hurry off. She already ruined things once; she doubts she could salvage them. But, she doesn't move, and her grip slackens on the strap of her bag. She looks up, amber eyes meeting Mikoto's. "...I'm a friend of his. Endo Naoki's."

To demonstrate what she means, she holds her other hand out, palm open. Without being transformed, she can't do more than a parlor trick with a spell. She does one to demonstrate: a tiny, swirling, translucent orb of red-orange light. It rotates, peacefully, in her hand.

Then it winks out.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto is singularly unfriendly, and she watches Lera carefully as she realises that fact. She's in clubs, she says. School clubs...

... as if Mikoto had time for that, with all the duties on her shoulders.

Golden brown eyes meet almost supernaturally bright gold, the type which ought to be seen in a cat instead of a human. Mikoto's gaze is guarded, watchful - and confusion crosses them, as Lera mentions a name she doesn't know.

She doesn't know Endo's name, so though Lera shows her what she can do - and the connections slip into place firmly, as Mikoto remembers the girl she's fought alongside now and then - she doesn't seem like she understands the meaning of those words. That Lera is magical, well; Miroku is right beside her. She'll fight if she has to.

But there are lots of boys in the world, after all, and only one of them she has failed so utterly to destroy.

Her tone is unsure. "... who's Endo?"

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera's eyes widen, a little. Her eyes are colored like a light ale; it's a sharp contrast with Mikoto's outright golden eyes. She tenses, though, at the question. At first, she is disbelieving. How can Mikoto not know? Except, of course, it makes sense. She may not be able to explain recognition inhibition, but she knows it exists.

And, she wonders, how in control is Mikoto?

"The boy with the black hair," she says, quietly. "The one you fought. He has a Device, like mine. Named Fallen Stern."

He head tilts. "He's alive," she adds, and a little bit of venom enters her voice. The fear that he might not be is there, now. After Mami, she wonders if that fear will ever leave her.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

How in control is Mikoto..?

... it's an important question to ask.

"Fallen Stern's wielder... is Endo?" Hate floods Mikoto, visible in the way her face twists into such an angry expression, the way tension knots so painfully at her, the way she lowers her chin as if to defend her vulnerable neck from her unseen foe. "... Endo..." She growls his name, more like a feral animal than a girl.

The boy who annihilated her. The boy who made her cry. The boy who made her feel so, so worthless. The boy she tried, so hard, to kill, only to be saved by things she doesn't understand.

The boy who lived.

"... I'll fix that," Mikoto says, and her voice is low and full of threat. She looks straight at Lera, and her expression is hard. She'll look her in the eye as she tells her her friend is going to die; Mikoto isn't the kind to flinch away, and there's nothing in her which suggests she's anything but deathly serious. She's tempered like a blade.

She speaks over bared teeth. Her voice is quiet, resolute, dangerous. "Fallen Stern will regret... thinking I'm weak. But Fallen Stern was right, once: there's no mercy for enemies." And she is watching Lera so, so carefully, because if Lera is Endo's friend... the chances she's an enemy are rapidly rising.

Rapidly rising, but not quite there yet. She hasn't made the decision to fight, so Mikoto still speaks.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

A few possible responses went through Lera's mind. She considered indifference; she considered guilt, too. She never imagined this angry, almost animal-like hatred. When confronted with it, she steps backward with instinctive fear, and concern. Will she go after him at school, now? Her eyes are widened at first, but Mikoto says something that strikes a chord of fear into her heart.

'... I'll fix that.'

She doesn't move to summon her Device or go on the offensive, even if she tenses. She is a trained fighter and a seasoned magical girl; at this point, her hackles are raised and she is on her guard. Her fingers curl, slightly, at her side. Her face starts to feel hot, though.

"You--" Something catches in her voice. Then, louder, "No! No, you're not!" Her voice quiets after that, but it doesn't grow calm. Instead, there is an edge of tense fear in her voice. It wavers with each word. "You already took one friend from me. You all keep saying your friend will die, but we said we'll keep them alive--and we're not the ones who murdered someone else! We're not--we're not trying to kill any of you!"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto watches Lera, as she steps back. She's frightened. Good. She should be frightened. Her fear signals her understanding.

... a distant part of Mikoto's heart despairs, to see the emotions on Lera's face, but all it does is darken her features further.

She raises her voice, and her fingers curl. Mikoto's weight shifts, in response, as if she's getting ready to spring forward. Could she, in her condition? It doesn't seem to cross her mind at all. If she must, she must.

But those curled fingers are nothing but tenseness, and Mikoto does not pounce.

"Liar," Mikoto's voice is firm. "Lera showed my lies, now Lera's own come out. I'm trained warrior, Lera. I know killing intent." Her gaze is unblinking. Even in her tiny, wounded body, she is still so capable of being threatening. It's those eyes - those defiant golden eyes, so hardened to savage violence. "Endo's ally had it."

She was calculating, devastating, utterly inhuman. So different to Mikoto's rage - and yet so similar. And there is no doubt in Mikoto's mind at all that she would have killed her, if she hadn't been distracted by something more important.

"And Endo," shame cuts through her words, "broke me, again. If Endo did this to me, what would Endo do to - someone like Yumi?" Her words waver for the first time, and there's fear in her eyes she can't conceal. It's quickly covered by her anger. "I withstand. But Endo is too strong." Endo would kill them, even if he doesn't mean to.

The emotions are a subtle admission of humanity which seems so, so sparse in Mikoto right now.

Mikoto growls, in the back of her throat, gutteral and annoyed. "I won't let Endo destroy them... won't let Endo destroy me." And there's a prideful edge, to the end of that sentence, because she is a warrior who can defeat any enemy. She won't let her spirit be vanquished just because there is one boy out there who managed to escape her full strength. Because there's one boy out there she failed to kill, even when she tried her hardest...

... her Lord Brother would never allow her that kind of weakness.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The contrast in Mikoto's voice between her use of the third person for Lera and the sheer firmness to it strikes her. The redhead's eyes stay wide open, but she stops taking a step backward, and stands her ground as she meets those eyes. She doesn't wither further, but she hesitates. Her discomfort is clear on her face.

"Stern's... hard," Lera agrees, finally, and quietly. "And--and Endo's not. Not like that! Devices don't choose for us when we kill or when we don't. We're partners, y'know? And Endo--Endo wouldn't try to kill you or anyone else! He--"

He broke her? She opens her mouth, and then clamps it shut.

"He wouldn't destroy them. He's got... he's got a lot more to live for than fighting, y'know? He wouldn't destroy Yumi. Or any of them," she says. "...Or you. Even if Stern wants that, because he's old and who knows what he's seen."

She grits her teeth. "And you--you shouldn't want someone dead! Where the hell does that lead!? Is that the kind of person you want your friends to see!?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Lera says that it's not Stern's choice, and it seems so impossible, to Mikoto, whose role is to listen. She snorts, disbelieving. All is the will of the sword...

... and Endo will listen, eventually.

He has more to live for than fighting, and despair clouds Mikoto's harsh gaze, because Mikoto knows, now, what her purpose really is. And it's proven, again and again - by people like Lera, who won't let her go back to her normal life.

It hardens, again, as Lera makes her demands, and Mikoto Minagi shares her most essential truth: "Enemies must be defeated." There is no matter of choice to it at all. No matter of want. But as she continues, her voice wavers again. "My friends, know. I -"

But Mai had been happy she hadn't killed anyone.

Mikoto's teeth grit against herself as she looks away, for the first time, her eyes scrunching shut. She hisses out a breath which shudders just a little too much, shame colouring her face. Mai...

... no.

No, she cannot show weakness in front of this girl. mai knows she's a monster

Her teeth are still set together when she looks back up, but her eyes are so unkind again. There is only one answer Mikoto Minagi could possibly give. "I'll defeat my enemies. 'Cause I won't cry, won't regret. I will carve a path to everyone's happiness." She loves them - won't let anyone hurt them.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera's fingers tighten up, balling into a fist. She can see her words reach her, but it doesn't mean they have the desired effect. In a way, it is easier, for having stood in similar shoes before. In a way, it is harder; Lera has since learned that speaking her mind leaves both people feeling hurt and frustrated. Her eyes widen for a moment.

Then, she shakes her head quickly.

She would like to say they aren't her enemies, but she knows that isn't true. "That's--that's not going to make your friends happy," she says. "No one would want their friends to hurt and kill for their happiness. I don't want mine to! You don't--you don't totally believe that."

Her voice quiets, and it is as much a question as it is a declaration. "...Do you?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto sees the fist. But it is not an attack, yet. And Mikoto must know, however distantly, that she is in no position to fight right now, that she cannot afford to strike first.

No one would want that, Lera says, and Mikoto's obsidian heart hardens against the lies, because she knows that the best expression of her love is to destroy. To utterly annihilate the enemies of those she loves - it's what she was made for, after all.

Even if -

- even if Mai's never wanted her to kill...

- even if Eri was upset she'd gotten so hurt...

Desperation edges into the way Mikoto looks up at Lera, lips curled up and pulled back to expose grit teeth. She is quiet, for a long moment, as what she must be and what Mai wants of her war in her mind.

She can't think that way. She can't. Her Lord Brother is not, cannot be wrong!

Mai is wrong. Mai doesn't get it. Mai is a good person, and Mai doesn't understand what must be done.

... Mai...

"I do," Mikoto says, and her voice is raspy against a throat which suddenly feels so dry.

Lera is hurting her, hurting her again.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

She knows it, too. Lera could stop. She could walk away. She could leave her with her justifications unchallenged -- to say nothing of how little she knows. She even knows that this is more complicated than it was with Fate and Setsuna; that something deeper, tied to more people, is at work here.

But if there is one thing that Lera Camry is bad at -- that she has failed at, every time -- it is keeping her mouth shut.

She shakes her head, finally, once, and it's a samll gesture, but it is resolute in its own way. "...I don't believe you, y'know? You look too angry for me to believe you."

Her eyes narrow, and she makes herself stand her ground, against whatever is to come. And, more than that, she keeps talking, even when she shouldn't:

"...And I don't think your friends would believe you, either, if you told them why you'll do this."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto's words have vanished; Lera's remain. She tries to summon her anger about her, to use it like a shield, but she cannot hide the way her heart hammers in her chest now that Mai has come into it again. She cannot hide the uncertainty in her eyes, the way her breath shallows.

The guilt crushes down like a steel press, and there is no room for muscle or blood or bone.

"It's what I am," she growls, finally, and there is still anger, there, anger for the girl who keeps pushing and pushing. She can do these things because of what she is; she must do these things because of what she is.

... 'what.' Not 'who'.

And because of that, she can do this for the people she loves. She can defend them. She can keep them safe from threats like Endo and his allies. She can... she can...

make mai cry again

She sucks in a sharp breath through her teeth. "I'm not good, Lera." The realisation hits her all at once, because she's never been, has she? If she knows bad things - if she acts on those bad things - that makes her a bad person. Another step away from Mai Tokiha's shining light. "Not patient either," Mikoto adds, threat returning to her words again.

The implicit message is clear: stop hurting me, or maybe I'll decide you're my enemy after all.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.


What, not who. Lera doesn't have the context of Mai Tokiha to put a few pieces together. Nor, really, does she know the full breadth of her ties to some of the Shepherds -- though she has an inkling to that. Still, she wonders, how does this tie to the likes of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune? Does it? Or are the Shepherds that varied?

It dawns on Lera, slowly, that she doesn't really understand the nature of the alliance that they fought. She isn't sure if there is time to really learn.

But she hears something else; something that reminds her of times past. The words 'I'm not good, Lera' make her feel sick; an icy, crawling, and familiar sensation from when she spoke with Fate and Setsuna both in times past. Her expression softens, slowly, as she looks down at Mikoto. Even when she flinches at the comment about patience.

"You're the one who gets to decide if you're good. Not fate or God or whatever or whoever else, y'know?" But, she does get the hint. She turns on a foot -- and then looks over her shoulder, after she takes a couple of steps away. "That's two things that I don't believe, Mikoto."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

That gaze softens, and Mikoto cannot stand it. She shrinks back, visibly, baring her teeth against the threat of Lera's sympathy.

She will not let Endo's friend assault her in this way. She cannot accept it. Lera hasn't brought a blade against her, but still she cuts, and cuts, and cuts, and Mikoto's heart hammers to each slice.

There is so much Lera doesn't know; there is so much Mikoto doesn't know. But where Lera realises her dearth of her information, Mikoto closes herself off with a snarl.

It doesn't matter why Lera looks her that way.

... it doesn't matter at all.

"I'll be what's required of me," Mikoto snaps, the words a desperate strike against her. "Always."

What she believes... doesn't matter, because Lera doesn't matter, because Lera is hurting her.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Who's requiring it?" Lera asks. "And do they want it?"

It isn't a question she expects an answer to. Lera cuts her a look briefly over her shoulder, before she turns around and starts walking forward. She is too rattled to try to make it look cool; she looks concerned and almost hurried, as she moves away from the garden at a quickened pace. It is after she gets a distance away that she stops, putting her hand over her face.

Deep breaths, she tells herself, and she listens. It calms her, even if that breath comes rattled. Her eyes squeezed shut -- and she could feel the piercing gazes of a few Ohtori students, as they passed -- but she opens them.

When she does, she spots the chapel not too far away. The head of blonde hair that she still half-expects to see there is missing. Her expression falls, slowly; it turns into a frown, and then with some focus, she makes her expression into nothing.

She lowers her eyelids and keeps walking.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

'Who's requiring it?'

That last look Lera gives Mikoto is met with a gaze which is hard and determined once more, because that question reminds her of her resolution.

Her Lord Brother has always required this of her. She is his blade. He commands; she destroys. This is the way of things. This is why she has the weapon called 'Miroku'. This is why she is the weapon called 'Mikoto'.

And she knows, certainly and without any shred of doubt, that he wants her to be exactly what she is - his own personal instrument of destruction.

And he has trained her to assess and categorise her enemies, instead of simply to follow his orders on who to kill - though certainly, she would do so without question. She is an independent agent. Must be, in order to find him again.

And if she uses that strength to protect her friends while he's gone - she's certain that's all right. That's who she is, after all - and what she is.

An exquisite obsidian monster who loves so fiercely that she would utterly annihilate anyone who stood in the path of those she loves.

A monster who can do what is necessary, even where her friends falter, because she doesn't understand Eri's sorrow. Cannot understand. Enemies must be destroyed - and she will destroy them.

That is his will, and she obeys.

... Mikoto doesn't rise from the bench for a long time.